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Jean-Claude Éloy: To Better Listen to My Music
July 9th, 2015Type: Sound Scene, Translation
Author: Jean-Claude Éloy, 謝仲其 (翻譯), 李岳凌 (翻譯) Editor: Rikey Tenn

To Edwin Lo

Sound, textures, energies

Above all, music is about sound, a sound and acoustic entity in the broader meaning of the term, which can be very complex and go beyond the mere concept of “music note”. The sound, when complex in the area of spectrum and timbre (as it is often the case through electro-acoustic techniques), becomes a “texture”. It becomes a material like a bright-colored piece of fabric or a natural material – e.g. sand, a stone, a ruby, the sea, clouds… Then it becomes a vector of “poetry”. As a result I would say that electro-acoustic music is primarily a place for “poetry”, for poetic construction in time.

Sounds or textures are also a sign of “energy”. In acoustic types of music the energy is related either to the power of the breath (voice, wind instruments) or to muscular strength: pressure force, impact force, agility force (violin, percussion, piano…). Those energies are not constant: they need rests, either to inhale, catch their breath or interrupt pressure or impacts so as to let the muscles and joints relax and regain strength.

In electro-acoustic types of music, the energy is the electricity. That energy is constant, infinite, it needs no rest. Hence the natural tendencies (in electro-acoustic music as I understand it) to produce a constant, sometimes quite steady, output: an ongoing “tension” for which rests no longer be a practical need, thus are no longer essential. Now the various articulations (or rests) will solely depend on the will of the composer, on his psychoemotional and mental fluctuations as well as on his freedom of action and design.

The energy (or the tensile factors of the textures) and the poetry (or the aesthetic and acoustic quality of the materials) thus establish some of the critical foundations of my music.


Time and its passage

To listen to my music correctly you have to remain patient. Let the music come quite naturally. Let the sound penetrate your consciousness. Freely. Slowly. Without a stir, with great serenity, without any mental preconception. It is useless to try and “understand”, especially to understand at once, in a heartbeat, with only one grasp of consciousness. That would be an artificial way of doing it.

In order to understand a speech, a text, things are different because words convey a concrete meaning: an object, an idea, a concept, a qualification… However, in the area of music, sounds have no meaning; only their structure and their changes in time mean something. That something is most often of an abstract essence, even when that essence moves you emotionally. I want my music to provide that essential quality of being able to generate a “communicative emotion”. I have no interest whatsoever in music devoid of any emotion, any poetry, and any drama!

The correct perception of music implies the passing of time. As such there is a movielike and theater-like dimension to it, clearly distancing itself from painting, sculpture or architecture. Let the sound and its textures slowly penetrate into your consciousness. Even when the piece is a long one, any interruption of the ongoing process, listening to it bit by bit will only cause to break such listening, making it useless. The meaning will gradually unfold as time goes by, progresses, runs its course. It may be that only the last sound helps retroactively understand a long listening sequence. Should that sound conclusion be different then the whole stretch previously listened to could be modified.


Memory as a means of knowledge

The more the texture is rich and fluctuating, the more you will have to listen to and hear it. That is when memory comes into play. For one work, every new listening will unveil new details, not yet perceived when first listened to. With each new hearing session of one work memory will set up a whole network of marks and the construction will seem clearer to you. With each new listening the meaning will become deeper.


The forces of the nature

My music endeavors to convey all forces of nature. The forces of war like the forces of peace. The forces of conflicts, upheavals, fights and violence, as the forces of acceptance, absorption, dissolution, the contemplative or meditation: all those forces concern me and concern us all as we are part of nature, part of the cosmos. We are dusts from the stars, planets, galaxies, dusts from that universe that we are discovering, exploring a little more day after day. Those forces that created us and that will destroy us are all around throughout nature.

In my music those forces express themselves through concepts and titles that are inspired either by science (Equivalences, Faisceaux-Diffractions), by selected philosophical concepts (Kâmakalâ, Shânti, Gaku-no-Michi), by selected aesthetic forms (Approaching the Meditative Flame…), or by selected stories, poems, symbolic or emblematic figures, connected to feminism through various channels (Butsumyôe, Sappho hikètis, Erkos…).(註1)

I would say that all those forces could not bear the name of one God but they all definitely fall within that which is “sacred”. They are all about “dialectic” (the dialectic of the forces of nature − energies; the dialectic of historic forces − time). They are the forces of the Yin and the Yang, of fire and ice, the atomic forces of attraction and revulsion, the forces of the past and future, faced with continuing rivalries, with continuing, more or less open, conflicts. Only sometimes do their balance prevail, creating those rare and unique states of harmony… A quest that, to this day, has remained unlimited, infinite, with no outcome. The same goes for the fate of all mankind and its development. An enigma that we all need to make some sense of. A mystery that needs clarifying through the following values: creative imagination, a forward-looking approach, various and thorough research projects, unlimited exploration, knowledge, discoveries… The rationale behind my music is probably about trying to express all those sensitive aspects.

Jean-Claude Eloy: 28-01-15 (English translation: J-C-Eloy / Hélène Demortier)

[1] Equivalences:等價, Faisceaux-Diffractions:光之繞射, Gaku-no-Michi:樂之道、 Approaching the Meditative Flame:邁向觀想之焰, Butsumyôe:佛名会。